Top history books

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  • Measure of Reality: Quantification and Western Society

    The Measure of Reality: Quantification and Western Society, 1250-1600


    “Magic” was widely acknowledged in the old world. Is there any evidence or record of such magic being used in a public, verifiable setting at any point in history? Why did so many people buy into this idea?
    Western Europeans were among the first, if not the first, to invent mechanical clocks, geometrically precise maps, double-entry bookkeeping, precise algebraic and musical notations, and perspective painting. More people in Western Europe thought quantitatively in the sixteenth century than in any other part of the world, enabling them to become the world’s leaders. With amusing detail and historical anecdote, Alfred Crosby discusses the shift from qualitative to quantitative perception that… more about book…

  • to Folklore: Traditional Studies in Europe and Elsewhere

    Introduction to Folklore: Traditional Studies in Europe and Elsewhere


    I often see in fantasy a person being “x moons old” or “x summers old”. Has this ever been the case in real life? When did it become standard to refer to someone as “x years old”?
    Folklore! The very word captures the imagination and sends the mind on flights of fancy. Dragons, ogres, witches, elves, and heroes and heroines, all featured in legend and folktales, known to anyone who had a story read to them as a child or who saw a film adapted from these tales. And yet, oral traditions and the beliefs they reflect, as well as the customs and magical practices of pre-industrial Europe, are poorly understood by many because this is the realm of the folk, removed from the w… more about book…

  • of War: The Violent Order of Fourteenth-Century Japan (Michigan Monograph Series in Japanes...

    State of War: The Violent Order of Fourteenth-Century Japan (Michigan Monograph Series in Japanes…


    In the movie Seven Samurai, a character accuses the samurai (all of them, as a caste of society) of destroying villages, raping women, and stealing from poor farmers. Samurai are usually portrayed as lawful — is there any legitimacy to this accusation?
    Book by Conlan, Thomas Donald more about book…

  • Fighting Censorship

    Angle: Fighting Censorship, Death Threats, Ethical Traps and a Land Mine, While Winning a Pulitze…


    A young army officer holds a bat used for interrogation while discussing the fate of an African prisoner outside an abandoned schoolhouse, during the Bush War in Southern Rhodesia, 1977 – [1770×2706]
    J. Ross Baughman used his camera to investigate criminal gangs, deadly hate groups and desperate armies around the world. While traveling across five continents and covering war in eleven nations, he survived being shot at and even stepping on a land mine. Along the way, this young Pulitzer Prize winner proved that many ethical dilemmas that paralyze journalism can be readily solved or, even better, simply avoided. (Illustrated with over 200 photographs) more about book…

  • City: Secrets of a Western Past (Historical Archaeology of the American West)

    Virginia City: Secrets of a Western Past (Historical Archaeology of the American West)


    Spent cartridges. The pieces of an original Tabasco Pepper Sauce bottle. Shards of a ceramic pot, stained red. For archaeologists each of the thousands of artifacts uncovered at a site tells a story. For noted Comstock authority Ronald M. James, it is a story resulting from decades of research and excavation at one of the largest National Historic Landmarks in America, the Nevada town that, with the discovery of the Comstock Lode, became a boomtown microcosm of the American West.Drawing on th… more about book…

  • in Power: The Revolution from Above

    Stalin in Power: The Revolution from Above, 1928-1941


    How critical was the capture of Moscow during WWII? Were the Germans really 1 mile away from essentially destroying the Soviet Union?
    This book forms the second volume of Tucker’s biography of Stalin, the first volume of which, “Stalin as Revolutionary”, was recently reissued by Norton in the United Kingdom. Robert Tucker shows that Stalin was a Bolshevik of the radical right whose revolution cast the country deep into its imperial, autocratic past. In 1929 Stalin plunged Soviet Russia into a coercive “revolution from above”, a decade long effort to amass military-industrial power for a new war. He forced 25 million peasant… more about book…

  • Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art

    The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece


    When thieves steal a painting by cutting it out of the frame, what does the gallery do with the bit of painting that remains with the frame?
    In the predawn hours of a gloomy February day in 1994, two thieves entered the National Gallery in Oslo and made off with one of the world’s most famous paintings, Edvard Munch’s Scream. It was a brazen crime committed while the whole world was watching the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. Baffled and humiliated, the Norwegian police turned to the one man they believed could help: a half English, half American undercover cop named Charley Hill, the world’s greatest ar… more about book…

  • My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West

    Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West


    Many Russian historians do not except the widespread rape of German women by the Red army, despite western consensus . Many Turkish historians do not accept the Armenian genocide happened, despite western consensus. What events do western historians not accept – despite non-western consensus?
    Immediately recognized as a revelatory and enormously controversial book since its first publication in 1971, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is universally recognized as one of those rare books that forever changes the way its subject is perceived. Now repackaged with a new introduction from bestselling author Hampton Sides to coincide with a major HBO dramatic film of the book, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is Dee Brown’s classic, eloquent, meticulously documente… more about book…

  • New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin

    The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


    Vladimir Putin served in the KGB until 1991. Do we know of any operations or activities he was involved in, and their effects?
    “A riveting, immensely detailed biography of Putin that explains in full-bodied, almost Shakespearian fashion why he acts the way he does.” –Robert D. Kaplan   The New Tsar is the book to read if you want to understand how Vladimir Putin sees the world and why he has become one of the gravest threats to American security.The epic tale of the rise to power of Russia’s current president—the only complete biography in English – that fully captures his emergence from shrouded obscurity and depriv… more about book…

  • An American Social History of Gratuities

    Tipping: An American Social History of Gratuities


    When did the “tipping culture” in the US originate? Was there ever “mandatory” tipping prior to that in other countries?
    Though the history of tipping can be traced to the Middle Ages, the practice did not become widespread until the late 19th century. Initially, Americans reviled the custom, branding it un-American and undemocratic. The opposition gradually faded and tipping became an American institution. From its beginnings in Europe to its development as a quintessentially American trait, this work provides a social history of tipping customs and how the United States became a nation of tippers. more about book…

  • First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness

    A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness


    It’s argued that Lincoln had Marfan’s Syndrome, what other important people of history had unusual, rare, or otherwise cool disorders/diseases?
    This New York Times bestseller is a myth-shattering exploration of the powerful connections between mental illness and leadership. Historians have long puzzled over the apparent mental instability of great and terrible leaders alike: Napoleon, Lincoln, Churchill, Hitler, and others. In A First-Rate Madness, Nassir Ghaemi, director of the Mood Disorders Programme at Tufts Medical Center, offers and sets forth a controversial, compelling thesis: the very qualities that mark those with mood dis… more about book…

  • Rap: The Untold Story of the Biggie Smalls & Tupac Shakur Murder Investigations by the Det...

    Murder Rap: The Untold Story of the Biggie Smalls & Tupac Shakur Murder Investigations by the Det…


    Twenty years ago today, Tupac Shakur was shot and fatally wounded. At the time, it was implicated that the Notorious B.I.G. was involved in his death. What evidence do we have now? Was Biggie to blame?
    Two of the most notorious unsolved cases in the annals of American crime, the murders of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls have been the subject of exhaustive investigations, relentless speculation and a tangled web of rampant rumors, crackpot conspiracies and dark secrets. Now, for the first time, the truth behind these sensational cases is laid bare in Murder Rap, a raw and riveting account of how a dedicated and driven police detective spearheaded the task force that finally exposed the shock… more about book…

  • Khan and the Making of the Modern World

    Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World


    Most misrepresented figures in human history?
    The Mongol army led by Genghis Khan subjugated more lands and people in twenty-five years than the Romans did in four hundred. In nearly every country the Mongols conquered, they brought an unprecedented rise in cultural communication, expanded trade, and a blossoming of civilization. Vastly more progressive than his European or Asian counterparts, Genghis Khan abolished torture, granted universal religious freedom, and smashed feudal systems of aristocratic privilege. From the story of his r… more about book…

  • of the Third Reich: LTI: Lingua Tertii Imperii

    Language of the Third Reich: LTI: Lingua Tertii Imperii


    What happened to the children of the Hitler Youth? How did the Nazi influence on their childhood affect them post-1945 and how have they responded to the Holocaust and the Nazis in adulthood?
    Victor Klemperer (18811960) was Professor of French Literature at Dresden University. As a Jew, he was removed from his university post in 1935, only surviving thanks to his marriage to an Aryan. First published in 1957, The Language of the Third Reich arose from Klemperer’s conviction that the language of the Third Reich helped to create its culture. As Klemperer writes: ‘It isn’t only Nazi actions that have to vanish, but also the Nazi cast of mind, the typical Nazi way of thinking, and it… more about book…

  • Pilot: The Final Escape of Lt. Belenko

    Mig Pilot: The Final Escape of Lt. Belenko


    An amazed Boris Yeltsin doing his unscheduled visit to a Randall’s supermarket in Houston, Texas, 1990. [1024 × 639]
    I was so blown away by this book I had to meet Viktor in person and now count him as a personal friend. The book is factual in every respect and is difficult to put down once started. John Barron is an excellent author and did a first class job of writing Viktor’s story. In addition to an exciting escape story it reveals why the Soviet Union had to collapse of its own ineptitude, deceit, and corruption. It details humorous incidents such as army pilots’ mess-hall riots due to bad food. Mig Pi… more about book…

  • Last Days of the Incas

    The Last Days of the Incas


    The epic story of the fall of the Inca Empire to Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in the aftermath of a bloody civil war, and the recent discovery of the lost guerrilla capital of the Incas, Vilcabamba, by three American explorers.In 1532, the fifty-four-year-old Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro led a force of 167 men, including his four brothers, to the shores of Peru. Unbeknownst to the Spaniards, the Inca rulers of Peru had just fought a bloody civil war in which the emperor At… more about book…

  • War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy (Politics and Society in Modern A...

    Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy (Politics and Society in Modern A…


    We’ve all heard about how the CIA meddles in foreign countries’ politics, but let’s flip that around. How have foreign intelligence agencies influenced US politics?
    In 1958, an African-American handyman named Jimmy Wilson was sentenced to die in Alabama for stealing two dollars. Shocking as this sentence was, it was overturned only after intense international attention and the interference of an embarrassed John Foster Dulles. Soon after the United States’ segregated military defeated a racist regime in World War II, American racism was a major concern of U.S. allies, a chief Soviet propaganda theme, and an obstacle to American Cold War goals throughout … more about book…

  • A Sourcebook (Routledge Sourcebooks for the Ancient World)

    Pompeii: A Sourcebook (Routledge Sourcebooks for the Ancient World)


    What was the Roman Empire’s reaction to the destruction of Pompeii?
    This book presents translations of a wide selection of written records which survived the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79, giving a vivid impression of what life was like in the town. From the labels on wine jars to scribbled insults, and from advertisements for gladiatorial contests to love poetry, the individual chapters explore the early history of Pompeii, its destruction, leisure pursuits, politics, commerce and religion, plus early reports of its excavation. Information about the c… more about book…

  • X: Growing Up In The Nation Of Islam

    Little X: Growing Up In The Nation Of Islam


    Islam and African American identity were highly intertwined in the 1960-80’s, especially radical activist culture. Today, Islam seems to play little role black activism. Did Islam decline in black culture, and if so, why?
    In Little X, Sonsyrea Tate reveals, through the acute vision and engaging voice of a curious child, the practices and policies of the mysterious organization most know only through media portrayals of its controversial leaders Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and Louis Farrakhan. First published in 1997, Little X chronicles the multigenerational experience of Tate’s family, who broke from the traditional black church in the 1950s to join the radical Nation of Islam, then struggled to remai… more about book…

  • New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

    1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus


    In this groundbreaking work of science, history, and archaeology, Charles C. Mann radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus in 1492. Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influenced the land around them. The astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan had running water and immaculately clean streets… more about book…